Welcome to the next instalment of the #beautyinsider Q&As, where you can find out who is behind some of your favourite beauty brands, what they are working on and how they got there. This month’s guest is Arabella Preston, Co-Founder of Votary, a vegan and cruelty-free British skincare brand focusing on the benefits of plant-based oils. As a keen magazine reader I regularly see Votary products featured in editorial pieces (Arabella’s background as a beauty editor probably helps), but it was the mention of their skincare consultation (which I review in my Online Beauty Consultation post) in a Sunday supplement that made me really sit up and take notice. Here Arabella shares the origins of the brand name and the benefits of remaining a niche brand.
1. Hello Arabella, thank you for being my #beautyinsider Q&A guest this month. Let’s start from the beginning: every beauty brand has a story, what’s Votary’s?
As a former make-up artist and beauty editor I was in the enviable position of being sent every product I could wish for but started to go through a personal journey with my own skin. Complicated routines simply didn’t suit me and my skin felt overloaded and dull. I discovered oil cleansing which turned out to be truly transformational on my own skin. At the same time I was using facial oils to prep my clients’ skin. Nothing gets your skin glowing and plumped like massaging in a beautiful natural oil. I started to blend my own oils at home but honestly never intended to turn it into a business. A close friend and ex-colleague had other ideas however! Charlotte [Semler, entrepreneur and co-founder] and I launched Votary into Liberty in September 2015 with just four products and haven’t looked back since. Since then Votary has evolved from 4 products to the multi-range brand that you see now. We make plant oil powered skincare for all skin types, all life stages and all genders.
2. I always find the inspiration behind a brand name intriguing – how did the name Votary come about?
Charlotte and I wanted something genuine and different. We wanted a name that captured the genuine passion behind our brand. VOTARY means ‘a devoted follower or advocate’. We are on a mission to show everyone how natural plant oils can transform their skin and VOTARY captures our enthusiasm and belief perfectly.
3. What is it that makes Votary stand out from other skincare brands?
My personal passion is for using pure, natural plant oils to power skincare. I think customers see us as the natural oils expert, but also as a brand that is interested in the overall health of the skin. We approach skincare holistically and not with a one-size-fits-all approach. Our products are packed full of pure plant oils, cold pressed in the UK in small fresh batches. We are cruelty free and naturally vegan. I still formulate our oil products by hand-blending at my kitchen table before we go into production.
4. As Co-Founder of Votary, what so far has been your proudest moment?
For Votary’s 3rd birthday Liberty of LondonLiberty of London gave us all the windows in their beauty hall – it really felt like a landmark for the brand. We are also incredibly proud of our collaboration with The Rosewood Hotel Asaya Spa in Hong Kong. There’s a Votary fragrance atelier where guests have bespoke body oils blended for them.
5. Insider news please! What skincare trends do you think we should look out for?
I don’t see Votary as a trend-led brand but I am very excited about all the research into the microbiome of the skin and the barrier function that is happening at the moment. I have always believed it to be fundamental to the health of the skin and always formulate Votary products with it in mind. As a small brand we have the privilege of being very close to our customers and are able to respond to their product requests. I can think of 2 or 3 products that have come about purely from customers writing to us and asking for them!
6. What exciting beauty projects or launches do you have coming up in the next few months?
We have had a lot of fun compiling a couple of wonderful Votary kits which our customers have loved – in our Spring Kit and Sleep Kit we have created capsule collections of products ideal for this time of year and in response to our current climate. The Glow Kit is coming for summer! We have an addition to our night range launching later on in the year which we are very excited about.
7. And finally – what do you get up to when you’re not at work?
Along with everyone else, life is very different right now [due to the lockdown]. Usually weekends are filled with friends and family and can be very busy. Our pace of life has slowed and I’m enjoying time in the garden, virtual quiz nights with friends and beautiful walks in the Kent countryside with my family.
If you have any burning questions you’d like to ask Arabella why not leave a comment below? Or you can get in touch with Votary directly on Instagram.